In today’s 24/7 society, being busy has become common. Throughout my early years of high school, my motto was to always stay busy, as if the mere notion of having work to do at all times would propel me forward on the path towards pursuing my barely thought out goals. Going forward to now, in my senior year of high school, I’ve dedicated myself to my combined passions of finance and healthcare. Just recently, I was accepted to my top choice school, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
"By frequently switching tasks through breaks, or even giving my mind time to rest, I am able to keep my brain fresh, increase creativity, and reduce mental fatigue, allowing me to continue to work without feeling the need to procrastinate or take a long nap."
- Raj P.
Throughout my high school career, I’ve involved myself in a wide variety of extracurricular activities, been employed as a lifeguard, and challenged myself by taking the most rigorous coursework at my school. Whether my time is taken up by my duties as State President of Nevada DECA, team captain of the varsity chess team, organizing leadership conferences for over 1000 students, or practicing traditional Indian dance, I never let my schoolwork be put on the backburner. With over 12 AP courses throughout high school, and countless honors courses, homework takes up another large chunk of my time. In addition, I’ve also volunteered for over 100 hours at the Veterans Affairs Hospital Emergency Department, won many speech and debate tournaments, tutored students for standardized tests, and won National History Day and We the People competitions.
With only 24 hours in a day and all this and much more that I want to do, I need to manage my time, prioritize my commitments, and ensure that I stay productive. Early on in high school, I struggled with procrastination, always opting for immediate satisfaction through playing video games or watching Netflix, rather than using time wisely to learn and complete my homework. As I continued through high school and required more time for learning, I adapted, and slowly, very slowly, figured out ways to combat my procrastination and manage my time with the help of learning some psychology.
The first technique that I learned was suggested by a teacher, called the Pomodoro technique. It involves cycles of 25 minutes of work, followed by a 5-minute break, followed by a longer 15-30 minute break every 4 cycles. By frequently switching tasks through breaks, or even giving my mind time to rest, I am able to keep my brain fresh, increase creativity, and reduce mental fatigue, allowing me to continue to work without feeling the need to procrastinate or take a long nap. The immense flexibility of the method also allows me to adapt it to any time frame or project that I need to complete.
"By learning how to keep a proper work-life balance now, I’ll be able to limit my stress in my future career, relationships, and life in general."
- Raj P.
My second technique is to prioritize work that is most important, especially if a due date is close by, or if I need to tackle a giant project such as organizing a leadership conference. For example, when preparing for the international DECA competition (I competed in Principles of Finance and Business Finance Services, winning 5th place internationally in both 2017 and 2019), I ensured that I prioritized homework first, as the due dates were generally closer than the date of the conference. However, to find some semblance of balance within my life, I always dedicated at least 15 to 30 minutes each day to learn more about finance, and around an hour each day to relax, decompress, or otherwise enjoy myself.
But how is this balance helping me find the key to a brighter future? Why is balance so important? In my future career as an investment banker or business consultant, I’m likely to find long working hours in high stress environments that can cause even the best of us to burn out quickly without taking proper precautions. By learning how to keep a proper work-life balance now, I’ll be able to limit my stress in my future career, relationships, and life in general. I won’t burnout as quickly. I’ll be more productive. I’ll be able to work harder, make fewer mistakes, and enjoy my life. And, most importantly, I will be able to have the key to a brighter future, because all that a brighter future entails for me is the continued happiness and good health of both myself and my family, which would not be possible without my continued dedication to time management and pursuing my passions.
- Raj P.